Saturday, July 31, 2010

Sort of Spicy Tomato Pasta Sauce

Have you ever organized a pasta night? Last week, this is the most successful cooking session ever! I was amazed of how many friends and colleagues joined for pasta night. Typically, in a cooking session, it is about 12 people but I didn't expect that we were in total 40 people for this night. I was even surprised that the small apartment can fit that much people.

At first, I was excited to show my friends how fresh pasta taste very different from dry pasta and I only prepared fresh ones for 10 people. It takes quite a while to make it for 40 people. I actually have to ask some of them to buy dry pasta, I was glad there was a grocery store nearby.

It wouldn't be a pasta night if there weren't any sauces involved. You can see in the picture the number of wonderful sauces that were made. In total, 15 creative sauces were made and all tasted incredibly good. I learnt a lot about sauces that I was unfamiliar with.

Since I was busy making and cooking pasta, I did not took a lot of pictures that day especially that the tomato sauces were all gone after the first batch of pasta. I will post a spicy tomato sauce from Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution with sausage added. Other sauces will be posted in the following week.

Serves 4-6
Preparation Time: 5 mins
Cooking Time: 20 mins
Printable Recipe


1/4 cup fresh basil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 fresh or dried chile, seeded and sliced
2 cans (14 oz.) diced tomatoes
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar


1. In a pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened.

2. Add in garlic and chile and cook until fragrant, about 1 min. Stir in basil leaves.

3. Add tomatoes and balsamic vinegar to pot and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Making Your Own Pasta

I just got back from a full week conference. Don't worry, I'm still partially food blogging while writing my thesis. I finally accepted the offer to do my PhD in Ottawa, Ontario. I found a marvelous place to live with a huge fully equipped kitchen, at least twice as large as my home kitchen. This means more tested recipes with a new group of people. I haven't given much thoughts about how to plan a one-person menu, any suggestions?

During the conference week, I went to a kitchen equipment store and saw a pasta machine that was on sale for only $20. The cost of such machine is about $70. Before buying a kitchen appliance, I have to get the approval of my parents and strangely, they were strongly in favor in buying one. When I came home, I immediately open some of my favorite cookbooks, start making pasta and cut it into fettuccine. Pasta requires three basic ingredients: egg, flour and salt. My first attempt of making pasta was impressively success. This is the first time that I have ever tasted fresh pasta and it taste very different from the dry ones. No wonder that on this season of Hell's Kitchen, Gordon Ramsay can tell if the pasta is made fresh or not. Fresh ones have a soft and tender texture which absorb the full flavour of sauces. The recipe is adapted from The Cook's Book - Concise Edition.

Serves 2
Preparation Time: 25 mins
Cooling Time: 30 mins
Cooking Time: about 1 min, depending on the shape
Printable Recipe


1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 eggs


1. Pour flour onto the surface and form a well, large enough to hold the eggs.

2. With a fork, whisk eggs and slowly incorporate it with flour. Add salt to eggs and continue pulling small amounts of flour until it becomes thick.

3. Once thick, start kneading and add the remaining flour until it can no longer absorb the flour.

4. Set dough aside, clean work surface and dry hands.

5. Knead the dough on clean surface until smooth and elastic. Sprinkle a bit of flour if very sticky, but don't let dry.

6. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 mins. This will help soften the dough, enough to be stretched.

Pasta Machine
7. Cut dough in half. Flatten the dough and pass it through the widest setting on the pasta machine.

8. Decrease the setting a notch and pass the dough once again. Repeat it once more.

9. Fold the dough into thirds and flatten it. Return to its widest setting and repeat step 7 and 8, 3 more times until the dough fells silky and elastic.

10. Roll the dough through the machine on decreasing settings until desired thickness is reached.

11. Use cutters to cut pasta into fettuccine or tagliarini. Toss a bit of flour to prevent for sticking after cutting.

12. In a large pot, boil water and add salt.

13. Add fresh pasta and cook for about 1 min. It is ready when you can no longer taste the rawness of the dough.

14. Drain and serve with your favorite pasta sauce.


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